Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bobby Crosby

Robert Edward Crosby was born on January 12, 1980, in Lakewood, California, the son of former major league infielder and old A's scout Ed Crosby.

He went to La Quinta High School in Westminster, California, where he played with the Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and then went off to California State University at Long Beach, joining New York Mets outfielder Jeremy Reed.

The Oakland A's took him in the first round of the 2001 draft (25th overall), and reeled him in with a $1.375M bonus. By 2003, he was in AAA Sacramento, where he hit .308/22/90, and earned a September call-up to the show.

In 2004, his first full season, he took over the Athletics' shortstop duties from 2002 American League MVP Miguel Tejada, who signed with the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent.

Crosby hit .239 with 22 home runs and 64 RBIs and led American League rookies in hits (130), doubles (34) and walks (58).

It was enough to earn Crosby AL Rookie of the Year honors the same season Jay Bay was the NL ROY for the Pirates. Different career tracks there, hey?

Crosby was hurt for big chunks of the next three seasons: 2005 (broken rib, broken ankle), 2006 (strained back; on DL twice) and 2007 (broken hand, strained hammy).

The broken rib was from a wayward pitch; the broken ankle was from a collision at home; the broken hand came from getting clocked with a 98 MPH heater. The back is chronically cranky, although not considered more than a hindrance now.

In 2008, he stayed relatively healthy (he missed 16 days with a strained calf) and the A's ran him on the field for 145 games. Crosby hit .237 with seven homers and 61 RBI.

Looking for some production, the A's brought in Orlando Cabrera for the 2009 season, and Crosby found himself a utility infielder. In fact, he was put on waivers, but no one wanted a piece of his $5.25M pay hit. He batted .223 with six homers and 29 RBIs over 95 games off the bench.

And once Crosby finished out the final season of his five-year, $12.75M deal, he found himself out of a job.

The Rockies wanted him for a reserve, and the Tigers kicked his tires before settling on Adam Everett. So it's looking like Pittsburgh, where he's assumed to have a chance to compete with Ronny Cedeno for the SS job. (DK says he has a deal for a year worth a mil plus $500K in performance money, pending his physical).

His range is a little suspect, though he has a strong arm, and he's a free swinger, although his K rate is about one for every 5 at-bats, which is bearable. Still, it's enough that an old A's blog went by the handle "Bobby Crosby, Please Stop Swinging at Bad Pitches." Ouch!

After seven seasons and almost 2,400 at-bats, his career line is .238/61/263, and his OBP is .305.

Now he's not JJ Hardy or Adam Everett, both preferred by the PNC suits. But it wouldn't be a stretch if he overtook Cedeno.

Crosby was in a funk most of last season; he played third, and hated the position. But his SS UZR in 2008 was +3; Cedeno's last season was -5.6, so he's an upgrade in the field, at least in performance if not potential.

Cedeno hit .258 with five homers, 21 RBI, and a .307 OBP in 46 games for Pittsburgh. We don't even want to go where he hit for the M's (.167); suffice it to say that he batted .208 overall in 2009.

Crosby did hit lefties OK. He was .265/.333/.460 in 2009 against them, compared to Cedeno's .193/.253/.295. So at worst, he should at least be in a platoon situation here. And the Pirates needed a middle infielder badly, even if for the bench.

It's funny. Five seasons ago, Bobby Crosby was fresh off winning the American League Rookie of the Year award and Ronny Cedeno was rising with a bullet in the Cubs organization. Both were looked on as the real deal.

Now they're battling to see who will be the placeholder until Brian Friday, Chase d'Arnaud, Jarek Cunningham, or Jordy Mercer reach the show. Such is baseball.

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